Polling Station Manual

Election officers

Our role: We run the election in a fair way for everyone. We count the votes and report the results to the returning officer.

Before the campaign

  • We affirm the solemn declaration before the returning officer (the teacher).
  • We complete the Does It Count? activity and check our answers in this manual.
  • We read the manual and gather all the materials for the polling station.
  • We set up the polling station according to the instructions in this manual.


  • We run the vote according to the rules in the manual.


After all students have voted:

  • We count the ballots together using the Tally sheet.
  • We report the results to the returning officer (the teacher), who announces the winning candidate.

I’m a voter! Just like in real life, election officers can vote for a candidate in the election. Listen to all the speeches, ask questions and vote for the person of your choice.

Before the campaign

The solemn declaration

I solemnly affirm that:

  • I am eligible to vote in this election;
  • I live in the riding of (name of the school);
  • I will act faithfully without partiality, fear, favour or affection and in every respect according to the law;
  • I will maintain the secrecy of the vote at the polling station.

Does It Count? answer guide

Complete the activity, then check your understanding using this answer guide.

These marked ballots should be rejected:

Description is below.

Why? They’re either

  • not marked,
  • marked for more than one candidate,
  • marked or written on in a way that could identify the voter, or
  • not marked in the circle beside the candidate’s name.

These marked ballots should be accepted:

Description is below.

Why? They are marked clearly inside the circle for one candidate only.

Materials for the polling station

  • Ballot box
  • Voting screen
  • Ballots
  • Voters list (ask your teacher for a class list)
  • Tally sheet
  • Pencils
  • Poster
  • Candidate list
  • Ruler
  • Election officer name tags (optional)

Setting up the polling station

Here is one way you could set up your polling station. Your classroom might look different.

Description is below.

Set up the polling station so that everyone’s vote is secret and the election runs smoothly.

  • Place the voters list and ballot box on your table.
  • Place the voting screen on another table. Make sure the voting screen is facing away from everyone.
  • Place the completed Candidate list and a pencil inside the voting screen.
  • Put up the poster in a place where voters can see it while they wait in line.
  • Make sure there is enough room for the voters to line up before they vote.
  • Make sure that voters can access the ballot box after they have voted.
  • Decide which election officer will be in charge of the voters list and which one will be in charge of the ballot box.

Here is one way you could set up your polling station. Your classroom might look different.

Preparing the ballot papers

Make sure you have some extra ballots in case you need them. If voters make a mistake when marking their ballots, you can give them a new one.

Fold each ballot in three as shown. Then write your initials on the back of each ballot paper.

Description is above.


After the campaign is done, it is time for everyone to vote.

  1. Ask voters to line up.
  2. As each voter comes up to the polling place, check their ID and cross off their name on the voters list with a ruler.
  3. Give each voter a folded ballot with your initials on it.
  4. Tell the voter to go behind the voting screen to mark their ballot and return it to you folded the same way.
  5. Check that the voter returns with the same ballot, folded the same way, with your initials showing on the outside.
  6. The voter places their own ballot in the ballot box. Make sure no one puts in extra ballots or removes any ballots from the box. It is your responsibility to keep the ballot box secure.

How is the vote kept secret?

  • All ballots are identical, so no one will know who filled out which ballot
  • The voting screen lets voters vote in private
  • By folding the ballot, voters hide the mark they made in the circle
  • Voters place the ballot in the box themselves
  • All the ballots are placed in the same ballot box and mixed together


Once all votes have been cast, it is time to count the ballots and determine a winner.

  • Empty the ballot box and make sure there are no ballots remaining in the box.
  • Unfold each ballot. Using the Tally sheet, count the votes for each candidate.
  • Complete the Tally sheet and sign it.
  • Once all ballots are counted, give the Tally sheet to the returning officer (teacher). They will announce the winning candidate.